Markets are ever more conversations and the role of the user has dramatically changed in the past decade, shifting from a passive unknown being, into active part of the conversation.
We live in convivial times where technology has enhanced new practices and new opportunities for organisations and users to talk, to understand their mutual points of view and share knowledge, meanings and values.
Nevertheless, there has been a divorce between users and organisations and much of those conversations are today limited to the final stage of product and service design. Rather than taking fully advantage of the potential of co-creation, and engage users in conversations and creative exercises, today users are involved only in the very final stage, when it comes to validate an idea that has been developed using traditional approaches.
This is evident in today’s UX practices, which risks to miss some key points and at the opportunity to bring the user in the centre of the process and empower them.
Participative design, started formally in Scandinavia in the ’70s and evolved into co-creation, opens a huge opportunity to organisations to listen and learn from their users by empowering them and giving them the change to influence services and products they would like to have, by revealing hidden meanings and values.
Because we are not designing anymore for needs, but for values and meanings which can only be expressed through participative activities where users, designers and stakeholders have the opportunity to collaboratively construct and shape innovation. Testing ideas limits users’ engagement: limiting users’ involvement to the testing phase creates a distance between users and organisations, and reduces opportunity for innovation.
For too long the user researcher acted as a man in the middle in the creative process, embracing the responsibility to be the sole interpreter of the organisation’s goals, the user requirements and the designers’ needs.
All this can be challenged through a collaborative approach, where all parts involved, stakeholders, designers, users and researchers learn from each other and construct what’s meaningful and valuable for all of them.
In an experience-based economy, where the value is given by the experiences enacted by the objects, more than by the objects themselves, which are only media and tools, exploring experiences and dissecting all the shadows that create an experience from the most diverse perspectives, is a strategic advantage that can lead to change and innovation.
Question is: are organisations ready for change and to engage in conversation with their customers?
Here’s the presentation I have given to the UX community at LadiesThatUX in London about this topic.